Kurt Cobain’s ‘MTV Unplugged’ acoustic guitar up for auction

Kurt Cobain of Nirvana during the taping of 'MTV Unplugged' at Sony Studios in New York City, on Nov. 18, 1993. Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

California-based, record-breaking auction house Julien’s Auctions is once again set to sell a piece of Nirvana history after acquiring the acoustic guitar used by late-frontman Kurt Cobain for their iconic 1994 live album: MTV Unplugged.

The 1959 Martin D-18E model guitar was listed earlier this week under the privately-owned site’s Music Icons category. Bidding for the musical relic is estimated to kick off at US$1 million (or 1.4 million CAD), according to the Guardian.

Cobain purchased the guitar along with its vintage hard-shell case at Voltage Guitars in Los Angeles, according to Julien’s Auctions. The auction listing, however, did not reveal when exactly he bought the instrument, only that he personally customized it ahead of the MTV Unplugged gig.

The legendary, 14-song performance was recorded on Nov. 18, 1993, at Sony Music Studios in New York City and released almost an entire year later — seven months after Cobain took his own life at the age of 27.

Story continues below advertisement

It was one of few shows were the In Bloom singer did not notoriously obliterate one of his guitars by smashing it on-stage in front of the crowd. Instead, Cobain simply placed the Martin acoustic back on its stand.

MTV Unplugged is widely regarded as the peak of Nirvana’s career and often considered one of the best albums of all time. It also features the Seattle-based grunge band’s infamous cover of David Bowie‘s The Man Who Sold the World (1970).

Along with Cobain’s Martin D-18E, the auction house is offering three Dunlop guitar picks and a partial set of Martin & Co. guitar strings among other small “accessories.”

Story continues below advertisement

The auction will kick off on Friday, June 19, and conclude on the 20th. It will take place both in-person at the site’s Beverly Hills address and online via the official website.

Kurt Cobain of Nirvana during the taping of MTV Unplugged at Sony Studios in New York City, Nov. 18, 1993. Photo by Frank Micelotta

Last October, Julien’s Auctions sold Cobain‘s vintage green cardigan from the same performance. It sold for US$334,000, which at the time equated to more than $437,000 CAD.

Upon its sale, the iconic garment was accompanied by both a handwritten letter and a typed, signed letter confirming its authenticity.

The letter was signed by Jackie Farry, a close friend of Cobain’s wife, Courtney Love. She gifted Farry the sweater shortly after being widowed.

Story continues below advertisement

Sponsored content